Unfinished BBQ Island Frame Cabinets

The finished product of a bbq island build out of an unfinihsed bbq island.

What is an Unfinished BBQ Island?

Simply put, unfinished BBQ islands are easy-to-assemble frames used to build complete outdoor kitchens. They add a lot of value to any project. Their modular designs mean you can construct a frame to fit nearly any kitchen shape; if the design slides outside the means of the supplied kit, piecemeal components are easy to find. With quick and easy assembly, a workload that might normally take days turns into an afternoon. On top of that, any kitchen built with this framework is easy to design and customize to fit your needs. Not convinced yet? We get it — but wait, they even slash costs on a completely custom build! If there’s anything to dislike about unfinished BBQ island frames, we certainly haven’t found it; neither have the many contractors we have worked with for the past 20 years and running.

Depending on the manufacturer, builder, and so on, you might see these referred to by different (but common) names: unfinished BBQ islands, outdoor kitchen frames, BBQ island cabinets, or any combination of those words. Any time we refer to these on this page, bear in mind that we’re always talking about the same thing: a collection of modular metal components that form the frame of an outdoor kitchen.

  • DIY (Do It Yourself) BBQ Islands

    If you take pride in entertaining with an outdoor kitchen island you’ve built yourself, unfinished kitchen kits have a lot to love. (Plus, they can make you look like a real pro. Who doesn’t like that?)

  • DIFM (Do It for Me) BBQ Islands

    If you (or your contractor) wishes to cut a few costs, unfinished BBQ islands are an excellent alternative to custom builds that won’t skimp on gorgeous veneers and finishes.

  • Outdoor Kitchen Contractors

    If unexpected issues cause your client’s deadline or budget to hit some snags, these BBQ island frames can make everyone happy: they’re light on the wallet, easy to build, and great with problem-solving.

Benefits of Unfinished BBQ Island Frames

  • Simple Assembly and Installation

    Outdoor kitchen cabinets are packed flat for safe and easy shipping. This makes them easy to handle and move around the jobsite. Generally speaking, it takes little effort and basic tools to assemble these durable cabinets from start to finish.

  • Easy Customization and Design

    An island frame is the modular skeleton of your outdoor kitchen project. Whatever exterior is designed is purely down to preference (just bear in mind: non-combustible!). This opens up a huge variety of great finishes and layouts.

  • Safe and Non-Combustible

    Each piece is designed by a company specializing in outdoor kitchen framing — sourcing these materials this way guarantees durability and a complete cabinet build from non-combustible materials. That’s less brainpower for you to spend.

  • Saves Time, Saves Money

    These BBQ island frames are actually quite simple to build, as opposed to the greater difficulty of completely custom jobs. Comparatively, they’re even priced at a nice bargain — perfect for swelling budgets.

Start With the Unfinished BBQ Cabinet Brands

After interviewing our outdoor kitchen design team and contractor-adjacent experts, we learned it’s easiest for everyone to start with the brand. Narrowing down the BBQ island build project upfront to a specific manufacturer is an important step because they aren’t interchangeable: they serve different climate needs, have little overlap in construction materials or processes, and aren’t strictly 1:1 in their cabinet categories or compositions. With that said, our two framing suppliers are Grillnetics and RTF Systems — both highly reputable and authoritative manufacturers.


Grillnetics believes in creating a superior product and standing behind it — they use 2-inch wide aluminum pieces, which makes rust cower with fear in nearly all environments, and the lifetime warranty is hard to ignore. Their product is easier to put together and consequently more DIY-friendly: less cutting, more bolting things together. With that said, there are a few limitations to bear in mind: the thicker frame pieces mean you have to ask a little less out of the same dimensions, adding a raised tier to the bar requires additional support, and side kits are an absolute must for exposed counter ends.

    • Great for DIYs or professionals

    • Assembles with as few as 8 bolts

    • Thicker design takes up additional space

    • Aluminum framing will not rust, rot, or catch fire

    • Needs more support for a second, higher countertop

    • Backed by a lifetime warranty

RTF Systems

RTF Systems designs environmentally-friendly island kits of 1-inch thick hot-dipped galvanized steel square tubing. These ready to finish frames aren’t quite as easy to assemble and may require some cutting, but their thinner pieces assemble in smaller spaces. Frame manufacturing from RTF Systems not only releases fewer CO2 emissions but, through minimal industrial processing, creates environmentally-friendly byproducts. Their frames are created from materials especially resilient, recyclable, and renewable, and feature a respectable 10-year warranty.

    • For the environmentally-conscious client

    • Less bolting, more cutting involved in builds

    • Slimmer design of frame pieces fits in smaller spaces

    • Durable hot-dipped galvanized steel construction

    • Grill cabinets use easy adjustable telescoping braces

    • Much easier to include a raised second countertop

    • Backed by a 10-year warranty

Which Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet Brand Better Fits My Needs?

  • Grillnetics

  • RTF

  • Is this frame suitable in saltwater, oceanfront properties?

  • Yes

  • Yes

  • Is this frame suitable within 10 feet of an outdoor pool?

  • Yes

  • Yes

  • What are the frames made from?

  • Aluminum

  • Galvanized Steel

  • How long does this frame’s warranty last?

  • Lifetime

  • 10 Years

  • How do the frame pieces connect?

  • Self-tapped

  • Brackets

  • What does the overall assembly mostly involve?

  • Bolting

  • Cutting

  • Does this frame easily support a raised countertop?

  • No

  • Yes

  • Can I build this frame without side kits?

  • No

  • Yes

  • Cutout dimensions — how much shorter than the cabinets must they be?

  • At least 8”

  • At least 6”

  • What kind of supports do the cabinets use?

  • Adjustable arms

  • Telescoping braces

How Do You Assemble a BBQ Island Frame?

  • Grillnetics

    This quick video tutorial of a front-load cabinet assembly for an outdoor kitchen provides a great example of what to expect with Grillnetics builds.

  • RTF

    This in-depth video tutorial of a 6-foot outdoor kitchen assembly is a great example of what to expect with RTS System builds.

Interested to know more? If you have further questions about anything you’ve read here (or anything else we offer), our outdoor kitchen experts are happy to demystify your concerns. Give them a ring at 1-877-743-2269!